Kelsey Wood is being held on $75,000 bail for the charge of “felony evading,” but the 25 year-old Angeleno is lucky to be alive. Wood shot to instant fame last week when she led the LAPD on a wild car chase through downtown Los Angeles that ended when police spike strips destroyed the car’s tires. Surrounded by police, Wood got out of the car and achieved instant viral immortality:
The obvious hook to this video is the impromptu dance number as Future’s “Where Ya At” blares from the stereo, but it wasn’t long before Kelsey’s relatively uneventful apprehension was decried as an example of white privilege. In the era of #BlackLivesMatter, the almost nonchalant way the police approached the car and took custody of someone who was a real threat stood in stark contrast with the treatment that people like Sandra Bland have received. Prominent BLM activist DeRay McKesson remarked “surrounded by officers near/in the stolen car after the car chase ends, she dances. & lives. watch whiteness work.”
But the problem with this incident goes deeper than the mere fact that a white lady danced her way out of a beating like the one Rodney King got after leading police on a car chase. I’m glad that Kelsey Wood survived her encounter with police, but if you watch that video again, there are several points at which she probably should not have, if other incidents are any guide.
First of all, police elected not to shoot Wood in the head like they did Sam Dubose, whose car wasn’t even moving when he was killed. Dubose was pulled over for not having a front license plate, not for leading police on a dangerous car chase that put the public at risk.
As Wood started dancing, she demonstrated textbook examples of the “furtive hand movements” that led LAPD officers to accost Ezell Ford, an encounter that resulted in the unarmed, mentally disabled Ford being shot three times. His killers have yet to face any criminal charges, although two investigations have ruled that Ford’s detention was not justified. Ford was also alleged to have committed eye contact.
During that dance number (an offshoot of the “krumping” craze that terpsichorean scholars refer to as “terrible dancing”), Wood then suddenly reached into both pockets, and then dove back into the car. Any one of those moves could reasonably have been interpreted as a move for a concealed weapon, as opposed to what Levar Jones did when he was shot four times. Jones was ordered to produce his license, and when he obeyed that police command to the letter, he got lit up:
After so many incidents in which the police acted unreasonably, it’s nice to see them show restraint when it would have been reasonable for them to use deadly force.For Whatever Reason™.